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November 09, 2004

I'm Edumacated

The Cobb County (Ga.) School Board is being sued over the use of stickers in biology textbooks that refute the idea that evolution is a fact (calling it, instead, a "theory"). This is the part that stands out for me:

The stickers were placed in the textbooks in 2002. The books include a thorough treatment of evolution, and the stickers were intended only to "acknowledge that it may hurt some people's feelings," said E. Linwood Gunn, a lawyer for the board.

I'm just not sure that the place for this is a biology textbook. Biology is a science, not a religion, and therefore it's not surprising that the text would speak about scientific principles rather than religious ones. I also don't think that protecting feelings is a good enough reason to alter a textbook.

But maybe the school board should leave those stickers in the textbooks, seeing as how the recent discovery of miniature humans is apparently bursting the bubble of evolutionary thought (at least as it currently stands).

I'm starting to think that, in addition to English, math, science and history, high school students should be required to take a class on world religions. No emphasis on Christianity, but rather a balanced course that outlines the major world religions, their origins/histories, basic beliefs, etc. I know that understanding religious doctrines isn't really necessary, but isn't the point of education to prepare young people to be successful in the world? To be of the world, and in the world, it helps to understand the world around you ... and I don't think anyone can deny that religious beliefs play a huge role in various global issues.

In other words, how much math does a person really need to know in order to get by? Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, for the most part. Your average high school freshman already knows all of those concepts (hopefully), but we still require those students to take an additional 3+ years of math. Why? Because we believe that further knowledge of things like geometry and trigonometry and calculus (if you're a masochist) - even if they're not used on a daily basis - will give people additional skills with which to succeed.

How much history do you need to know? Is it really important to know what happened before the Industrial Revolution? We memorize historical facts, but can they be applied to modern life? I know that Christopher Columbus discovered America - but so what? What does knowing that do for me, other than elevate me (in a horribly classist way) above people who haven't memorized that fact?

Maybe another value of education - beyond basic living skills - is in giving people the means to place themselves, and the world, in context. It's for that reason that I think high school students would benefit from being required to learn about different religious beliefs.

Posted by Highwaygirl on November 9, 2004 11:19 AM to the category Current Affairs

I would just like to point out that I am a product of Cobb County, Georgia schools. *raises roof for monkey homies*

Things that make you go "hmmm." Interesting post, Julie. I shall be over there *points* pondering.

Posted by: Roo at November 9, 2004 02:49 PM

I find it disturbing that any school district would call "Evolution" a theory. By that logic, Gravity is only a "theory" and Newton's laws are now theories.

Just one more reason I'm glad I gave up christianity for Buddhism!

Posted by: Phildozer at November 10, 2004 08:47 AM
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